Free Things to Do in Florida’s National Parks

Winter and spring are known to be “the season” in South Florida, but even during the summer months, there are plenty of free things to do in Florida’s national parks, just pick your favorite way to enjoy the outdoors!

We’ve highlighted some of our favorite summer activities to do below to give you some outdoor inspo, but as always, check the weather before heading outside, apply sunscreen regularly, and make sure to stay hydrated!

Explore the Everglades This Summer

Take a stroll with a ranger and explore the renowned Anhinga Trail where alligators, wading birds, and other wildlife are easily spotted! Meet at the Royal Palm benches at 10:30 am any day of the week – this ranger-led program is offered 365 days a year and its always free to attend. Check out Everglades National Park’s calendar for more details!

Along the way, you may notice a few benches with plaques on them. Those are the names of some of our most enthusiastic supporters – and there’s a way that you can have a bench with your name on it as well! Read all about our donor recognition plan here!

Trail blazes lead the way through Big Cypress National Preserve

See how the wonderland that is Big Cypress National Preserve transforms during the summer rainy season.

Thanks to our partners at the Florida Trail Association, every mile of the Florida Trail in Big Cypress National Preserve – plus Robert’s Lake trail, the blue loop trail and the trails north of I-75 – all received maintenance in one season this year.

In addition to routine maintenance and blazing, two new benches were installed in Big Cypress. One is now located at Ivy Camp and the other at the Tropical Island, which serves as a great destination for those interested in experiencing Big Cypress for a half day outing of 2.8 miles round trip. The FTA crew also spent some time clearing additional space at Thank God Island.

And one of the best parts? There’s no entrance fee to Big Cypress National Preserve, so you can explore as often as you’d like!

Get all of your questions about hiking the Florida Trail answered at

The lighthouse of Loggerhead Key towers over vibrant, underwater coral

It’s easy to wax poetic about at Dry Tortugas National Park because if a traditional picture is worth a thousand words, than a photo of Dry Tortugas is worth a million.

World class snorkeling, voted as one of the top 10 places to camp in the Southeast by The Dyrt, the largest brick masonry structure in the Americas, a haven for native wildlife. Dry Tortugas offers a little bit of everything and then some!

But the remoteness of the park – it’s 70 miles off the coast of Key West – usually means that you’ll be able to spend the quality time that you want to in the park without the chaos of big crowds.

The best way to get to there is via the Yankee Freedom ferry. While a seat on the ferry isn’t free, the cost of admission to the park (usually $15), snorkel gear, and lunch is included in the price. But be forewarned, the ferry usually books up weeks (and sometimes even months!) in advance, so plan ahead to treat your future self with a trip later in the year!

Book a trip to Dry Tortugas on the Yankee Ferry at

The trails of Biscayne National Park

Last year, Biscayne National Park kicked-off a $6.3 million project to complete repairs to areas that were significantly damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017.

One of those projects was the rehabilitation and renovation of the beloved boardwalk and trails surrounding the park’s visitor center. This area is scheduled to reopen to the public in July – and we’ll make sure you get all of the details once it does.

What are some new things visitors expect to find there once the trail and jetty reopen this summer?

  • The 4,320 square feet of hardened trail, between the existing boardwalk and fixed bridge to the jetty, will be replaced with boardwalk.
  • The boardwalk will be extended approximately 50 feet beyond the fixed bridge to provide accessibility to the jetty.
  • The rock retaining wall has been repointed and low-voltage lighting has been placed at edge of the boardwalk.

PS: Walking the jetty trail and exploring the lands around the park’s Dante Fascell Visitor Center are totally free to visitors!

These programs are only possible with your support. Please consider donating today!

And don’t forget, winter activities are just a few months away!!